I’m Smarter than my Team Lead


Okay, Congratulations.

(Part of me thought of stopping the post right there for laughs)

This statement invariably comes up from someone who is knee deep in their speciality and has started comparing themselves to the person they report to – their Team Lead, their Manager, their Director, etc, etc.  Wherein they start to think that they would be much better as the lead because they know their speciality so much better.

This could be true and if you are one to be thinking this, I might respond back with the following questions;

  • Is this all you are focused on?
  • Are you responsible for only your efforts alone?
  • Are you helping the rest of your team grow through your efforts?
  • Do you ensure that everyone is not bottlenecked on outside influences that could derail your projects?
  • Are you involved in not only your area of expertise but the rest of the team’s?
  • Are you actively coding while taking the time to help people with their own coding problems?

Team Leads are a special breed of leader in Software Development – they don’t typically have any direct control over pay, vacation, objectives of people in their team and yet they still have a ton to do in that regard.  In essence, all they have is their skills as a leader to encourage, motivate, lead their team to deliver something, anything of incredible awesomeness.

So yes, you might be smarter than your Team Lead in your area of expertise, but that’s probably because your Team Lead has shifted their focus to the entire team and is trying to think of a way that they can make everyone on the team smarter than they are.

The PD Day

I loved these as a kid – PD Days – the extra day that would pop up here or there on your calendar, sometimes at the last minute giving you a whole extra day to sleep in, play lego, goof off, whatever.

For those in Education – they stand for Professional Development Days – from Google.

PD days in the school calendar recognized that teachers needed time during the school year to hone their skills, improve practice, and stay current with changes related to teaching and learning.

I don’t see this much in software, you hear about, sometimes it takes shape for a period of time, but then we get busy with the next release.  Or some people take it, but others don’t, or you are sitting there thinking you should really be helping on that release and you don’t get to really apply any focus.

And then there is the inevitable piece that it must be tied to what you are working on – aaack.

But what if PD days for Developers were something completely different that emboldened the same criteria in the definition of the above;

  • Hone your skills
  • Improve with practice
  • Stay current on changes in the industry
  • Experiment
  • Create
  • Learn
  • Share

That last one is key and one I would add to the above definition, share what you learn, share what you succeeded at, share where you failed and think about what you are going to do on your next PD Day.

Who do you Report to?

It’s not a tough question – Who do you report to?

If you’re not in the position of lead, I would imagine you might say to your Team Lead or Manager – a perfectly acceptable choice.

But if you are a Team Lead or Manager responsible for those on your team and you answered your Manager or Director…

Then I would say you are wrong.

A Great Lead reports to the people on their team, working with them to garner feedback on how they are doing and where they need to improve, identifying strengths and weaknesses in themselves that they either need to capitalize on or work to get better at.  The people on your team hopefully look up to you and you should as well, they have as much to offer to you as you to them.

An organization chart is made up of hard-lines of reporting structures, but it’s the overlay of dotted lines that scatter the diagram that reveal not only the true structure but the one that binds the organization together and if you look closely, the arrows can go in a variety of directions.

The Perfect Route to Work

Perhaps you take the bus, walk or drive to work (kudos to all the bikers and runners out there) – either way we are all in search of the perfect route to work.

That route might involve many things, beyond short distances;

  • Avoiding Traffic by leaving early, staying late
  • Where the local coffee shop is located
  • Can I take the scenic route
  • How many podcasts can I listen to on the way there
  • Carpooling

Whatever it is, that makes up your perfect route when the stars align and there is no traffic, the podcast is perfect, your beverage of choice is perfectly heated and you get to the see the sunrise coming up on the drive in – take that perfection and flip it to the worst possible drive in.

If you’d still make that drive, every day, in that worst of possible scenarios – then take that opportunity, job or career and make it happen.

The altMBA – what it does

For some reason, I thought when I sent my application into the inaugural altMBA program it was later in May – turns out it was much, much earlier than that.

Wow time flies.

So here is how it did start for me…


And that was it, that was how it all started – I had no preconceptions what the course was, how it worked, what my grades would be (are there grades?  no there are not) and where it would take me.  Something new, something different, something to give you a swift kick.

From it I learned that I can do anything everywhere and need to keep pushing deeper – dipping my foot in the water, seeing if it is cold or not was not going to be enough.  It’s funny reading the above email today because my first prompt was called “Leapfrog the Ladder” – lol.

Even if you missed the next cycle, there will be more because it’s spawning into such a great program and if you don’t believe be, look at all these great people that I met and see what they are accomplishing…

Louise Karch – every day, I open my facebook to read her great posts and see what she is doing over in Australia (although she is native Canadian) and look forward to her book coming out (and every time it gives me that kick to finish mine).

Mike Savatovsky – Mike’s running an incredible program right now on giving back to when he was cured of Cancer.  The program is available here and definitely worth checking out.  It’s a very ambitious program and the quality is simply stellar.

Derek Martin – Man this guy delivers incredible videos that simply knock your socks off and it’s no surprise that he did a recent Ted talk .  Simply incredible (and great talk too)

I could probably keep running through people who now fill my Facebook with all of their great accomplishments… those from FLAX… and those from many other cycles… but maybe I’ll let you sign-up and experience it for yourself.

Than if you’re in my neck of the woods we could meet-up and who knows where things could go from there.